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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Body armor types...? Reply to topic
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Jun, 2005 3:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I do not actualy imply that there is a link between the chinese lamelars and the Brignadine, I was just pointing out another kind of body armour.
After all, there are only so many ways to cover your body in small metal plates. Wink

In my mind Lamelar is a scale armour where the scales/plates overlapp and are riveted together in all four corners, while the Scale armour is just riveted to the backing garment at the top.


Another intersting case is the anticent middle east.
I did my major paper on silk trade throug the parthian empire, and in the process ran into the parthian Catapract;

Unfortuately, there are not a lot of depictions of them; this is a graffiti from Dura Europus, in what is today Iraq.
It would look like he is wearing mail on his upper torso and thighs, a corslet of larger plates, and laminated arms (Maybe similar to that worn by certain roman gladiators). The horse looks like scale or more coarsely drawn maile.... Hard to tell.

A couple of modern interpitations can be found here:
http://www.iranchamber.com/history/parthians/parthian_army.php

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Hisham Gaballa




PostPosted: Mon 20 Jun, 2005 12:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very famous picture that, it's funny how something so crude and sketchy has appeared in almost every book about Parthian and Sassanid armies Happy.

I have also seen quite a few attempts at interpreting it as well. As you said, he is probably wearing a mail shirt, Roman style laminated arm and leg defences. I believe fragments of a 2nd or 3rd century AD Roman cuisse of this type was found at Newstead in Scotland (?) and laminated arm defences are shown on the Adamklissi Monument, which shows scenes of Trajan's campaigns against the Dacians. An alternative explanation I have read is that the limb defences are made of quilted fabric, but I don't think there is any evidence to support this. I think the corselet may be some kind of lamellar armour, but it's hard to tell.

One book I have seen reconstructed the armour as a "mail and plate" cuirass similar to those used in the Middle East, Russia and Iran from the 14th to the 18th centuries AD, however I think that is highly unlikely.

The helmet could be a conical helmet of spangenhelm construction. There has been some debate about what is underneath the helmet. My favorite interpretation is that it is probably a face covering mail aventail, similar to that on the monumental early 7th century statue at Taq-i-Bustan in Iran and on Turco-Iranian "Turban Helmets". (Like the one on my avatar Big Grin)


Last edited by Hisham Gaballa on Mon 20 Jun, 2005 1:17 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Mon 20 Jun, 2005 1:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Jun, 2005 1:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Contemporary roman sources state that
"Their armour, and that of their horses, is formed of plates, lapping over one another like the feathers of a bird, and covers both man and horse entirely."
This would sugest scale or lamelar armour. The romans used scale, but as far as I rembember they used very small scales;
http://www.carlislemillenniumdig.co.uk/pages/armour.htm

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Jun, 2005 9:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
Contemporary roman sources state that
"Their armour, and that of their horses, is formed of plates, lapping over one another like the feathers of a bird, and covers both man and horse entirely."
This would sugest scale or lamelar armour.


It is describing scale armour. Lamellar wasn't adopted till later. The Latin term "plumata" was used to describe scale armour in which each scale had a vertical medial ridge. As noted in the above quote, scale armour of this type closely resembles feathers. Hence the term ("pluma = "feather).


Last edited by Dan Howard on Mon 20 Jun, 2005 9:06 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Jun, 2005 9:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:

In my mind Lamelar is a scale armour where the scales/plates overlapp and are riveted together in all four corners, while the Scale armour is just riveted to the backing garment at the top.


It would be simpler if you used conventional definitons so eveyone knows what you are talking about.

Scale armour consists of overlapping plates fastened to a backing material. It may be laced, wired, or riveted, and the direction of the overlap is irrelevant.

Lamellar consists of metal plates laced or wired in such a fashion that it does not need a backing to maintain structural integrity.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Jun, 2005 9:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:

It would look like he is wearing mail on his upper torso and thighs, a corslet of larger plates, and laminated arms (Maybe similar to that worn by certain roman gladiators). The horse looks like scale or more coarsely drawn maile.... Hard to tell.


The horse is definitely wearing scale. Several scale trappers were found in the same location looking almost exactly like the graffito. It is debateble whether the human armour is scale or mail. Impossible to tell.
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Hisham Gaballa




PostPosted: Tue 21 Jun, 2005 2:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Elling Polden wrote:

It would look like he is wearing mail on his upper torso and thighs, a corslet of larger plates, and laminated arms (Maybe similar to that worn by certain roman gladiators). The horse looks like scale or more coarsely drawn maile.... Hard to tell.


The horse is definitely wearing scale. Several scale trappers were found in the same location looking almost exactly like the graffito. It is debateble whether the human armour is scale or mail. Impossible to tell.


As you said Dan, it is difficult to tell, however I do feel that while the Trapper is probably more likely to be scale than mail, the squiggles on the warriors body armour and aventail are different, and could be mail. The Romans had been been using mail for at least 4 centuries by this time, and were in constant contact, usually hostile, with the Parthians.

On the other hand the Sarmatians, who also used heavily armoured cataphract-style cavalry, certainly did use scale armour and spangenhelms. But the base of Trajans column does show mail shirts and scale armour juxtaposed with Sarmatian style spangenhelms and "Draco" standards. I know what you'll say Happy, just because the Sarmatians may have used mail doesn't prove that the Parthians did, I do feel however that it increases the likelyhood that they did though.

Also, please correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't there a mail shirt, probably of Iranian origin, found at Dura Europos? I'm afraid my source for this is something I vaguely remember reading in a "Men-at-Arms" book ages and ages ago.
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Tue 21 Jun, 2005 8:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This page features a large, better picture of the graffiti, as well as a picture of persian soldiers, from the synagoge at Dura Europus. (Which is in syria, buy the way... My bad)
http://faculty.maxwell.syr.edu/gaddis/HST354/Apr17/Default.htm

There is obviously three different kinds of armour on the rider.
I'm tempted to say that the Katapract is wearing a mail shirt, reinforced with metal plates around the waist, like comonly seen on later oriental mail shirts.

The armoured figueres on the synagoge fresco seem to be wearing scale, but again the drawing is highly styliced.

A friend of mine actually visited the Dura Europus museum, and said that they had a complete lalelar horse armour there... I'm unable to find a picture or refernce of it on the net, but he said he would see if he could find any...

A segment of roman/parthian/sassania/generic anticent middle eastern lamelar, found at Zeugma, Turkey

The site:
http://www.classics.uwa.edu.au/projects/zeugma

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 21 Jun, 2005 3:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

According to James, there was no lamellar at all at Dura Europas. In his "Final Report" he reckons that the items that were initially described as lamellar are, in fact, scale armour. There certainly wasn't any lamellar horse armour found. It was all scale.

Regarding the Graffito, looking at the link posted by Elling I am thinking that the arms and legs of the Graffito may not be metal at all.

Take a look at the legs on the first image.
http://faculty.maxwell.syr.edu/gaddis/HST354/...lerian.jpg

And the arms on this image
http://faculty.maxwell.syr.edu/gaddis/HST354/Apr17/Hunting01.jpg

One might conclude that the artist is attempting to represent some sort of quilted padding over which was worn mail/scale armour reinforced with plates so that only the quilting on the arms and legs are visible.
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Wed 22 Jun, 2005 6:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:

Take a look at the legs on the first image.
http://faculty.maxwell.syr.edu/gaddis/HST354/...lerian.jpg

And the arms on this image
http://faculty.maxwell.syr.edu/gaddis/HST354/Apr17/Hunting01.jpg

One might conclude that the artist is attempting to represent some sort of quilted padding over which was worn mail/scale armour reinforced with plates so that only the quilting on the arms and legs are visible.


I begg to differ. These figures are not armoured. My impression is that of styliced loose clothing.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Hisham Gaballa




PostPosted: Wed 22 Jun, 2005 1:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hmm, the plot thickens...

So we have at least 3 possible explanations for the lines on the Parthian cataphractus' limbs:
1. It is a laminated metal limb defence related to those worn by Roman gladiators.
2. It is a quilted fabric limb defence.
3. It is a stylised way of representing Parthian baggy clothing.

I have to admit I personnally feel that any or all of the 3 explanations could be possible, as the evidence is vague and fragmentary. I will illustrate by the following pictures:


First off we need to remember that from the death of alexander until the end of the 3rd century BC, Iraq and big chunks of Iran were part of the Hellenistic Seleucid kingdom. They were then conquered by the Parthians and became the heartland of the Parthian Empire.

This first relief is also Hellenistic, but from Pergamon:


No of course this is not Seleucid, but there seem to be laminated arm defences at the bottom there, between the helmet and the chariot wheel.

However this probably is Seleucid, it's from Iraq and it is 3rd-2nd century BC:


Then we have this relief of Parthians and Sassanids from the 3rd century AD:


But to confuse the issue we get terracotta reliefs and statuettes like these:



Edit: If a reenactment group ever decided to reconstruct the appearence of the Dura Europus cataphract, there should be some interesting discussions! Big Grin
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Wed 22 Jun, 2005 2:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

With the exception of the Pergamon relief at the top, I think those are all depictions of quiting (or baggy civilian clothing) and convince me more than ever that the clibanarius is wearing metal torso armour over quited shirt and leggings. Are there any primary documents describing the clibanarius? I can't find any.
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Hisham Gaballa




PostPosted: Wed 22 Jun, 2005 3:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
With the exception of the Pergamon relief at the top, I think those are all depictions of quiting (or baggy civilian clothing) and convince me more than ever that the clibanarius is wearing metal torso armour over quited shirt and leggings. Are there any primary documents describing the clibanarius? I can't find any.


Good question, there are a lot of books I have lost over the years and I now wish I hadn't. So the simple answer is, I don't know. I have a feeling however that most contemporary descriptions will be short on detail.

BTW what about the Firuzabad rock carvings? Unfortunately all I have is the line drawing, I can't find any photos of the carvings. This carving is a lot more detailed than the Dura Europos graphiti, you can actually see the links on the Sassanid warriors' mail. They show both Parthians and Sassinids with lines on the limbs, and on the figure of the Parthian vizir, they almost seem to be overlapping. the Sassanids also seem to have knee cops.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Wed 22 Jun, 2005 3:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

How do you strap a knee cop over segmented plate so that the joint still articulates? Knee cops are more likely to be worn over soft/flexible material.
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Hisham Gaballa




PostPosted: Thu 23 Jun, 2005 2:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
How do you strap a knee cop over segmented plate so that the joint still articulates? Knee cops are more likely to be worn over soft/flexible material.


I'll rephrase that: The leg armour shown on the Sassanid warriors looks like it has a poleyn at the knee.
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Thu 23 Jun, 2005 7:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From the above pictures one can see that the Parthians wear the laminated arm deffence and scale/lamelar, while the sassanids wear mail. on their arms, and the same kind of laminated leg deffence.
Would the parthinan grand vizer, and all his Katapracts, go to war without metal armour on his arms or leggs?

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Thu 23 Jun, 2005 3:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
From the above pictures one can see that the Parthians wear the laminated arm deffence and scale/lamelar, while the sassanids wear mail. on their arms, and the same kind of laminated leg deffence.

Oh come on. It is ridiculous to make such a claim based solely on artistic evidence. Segmented plate is but one possibility, and IMO unlikely to be the most likely possiblity. If you can find some additional evidence to support your claim then I would be more willing to entertain the notion. Something in the primary sources or archaeological record, not more artistic interpretations.

Quote:
Would the parthinan grand vizer, and all his Katapracts, go to war without metal armour on his arms or leggs?

Why not? Quilted cloth offers much better defence than you seem to think. It is capable of resisting arrows and sword cuts.

If this segmented plate was so wonderful on the battlefield then why did the Romans restrict its use largely to the arena? Maybe you could also tell me how you are supposed to put them on since none of the effigies show any hint of straps or buckles.
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Patrick Kelly




PostPosted: Thu 23 Jun, 2005 5:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Caution gentlemen.

More educational discourse and less condescension.

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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Thu 23 Jun, 2005 6:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is a possible clue in the term itself. The word "clibanarius" refers to the Roman field oven - suggesting that the armour worn was stiflingly hot. If only the torso was covered by metal, it is difficult to see why such a term would have been applied.
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